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Prosecutor’s closing argument deprived defendant of fair trial

July 31, 2013

A man convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor will get a new trial after the Indiana Court of Appeals found the prosecutor’s zealous statements made to a jury during closing arguments deprived the man of a fair trial.

In Bruce Ryan v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1211-CR-932, the Court of Appeals concluded the prosecutor committed misconduct that resulted in a fundamental error. Subsequently, it reversed Ryan’s two convictions for Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor and remanded for a new trial.

“We have concluded that the prosecutor improperly commented on Ryan’s constitutional right to a jury trial; improperly disparaged defense counsel, the role of defense counsel, and our system of justice; improperly urged the jury to convict Ryan for reasons other than his guilt; and improperly vouched for Z.W-B.’s truthfulness,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the court. “The State argues that no fundamental error occurred because the evidence of sexual misconduct was overwhelming and demonstrates that the results would have been the same without the prosecutor’s comments. We are unpersuaded.”

Ryan was convicted of two counts of Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor after Z.W-B’s parents discovered emails from Ryan to their daughter and allegations of a romantic relationship emerged.

The COA found the state did not provide independent evidence that Ryan performed or submitted to touching Z.W-B in order to arouse or satisfy their sexual desires. Instead, the prosecutor made a series of statements that taken together deprived Ryan of a fair trial.







 

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